J. Matt Thomas
J. Matt Thomas is an architect, artist and the founder of Studio Taos, an interdisciplinary design and research firm based in Taos, New Mexico. A graduate of Columbia University Architecture and Urban Design Program, Matt is determined to practice acts of urban design in the rural Southwest via The PASEO. Ever dedicated to a healthier, stronger and more creative community, Matt is also an organizer of Pecha Kucha Night Taos and manages the art collection at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, New Mexico.
Artistic Director and Education Program Director 2018
Agnes Chavez is a sci-artist and educator working at the intersection of art, science and technology. In 1996 she developed the Sube: Teaching Language thru Art, Music & Games curriculum now serving half a million elementary grade children in second language learning. In 2009 she created the STEMarts Lab an R &D Lab that explores an interdisciplinary exchange between the arts and STEM (Science, technology, engineering, math) as a way to engage youth in creative 21st century learning through social practice.
Lili Rusing is a development consultant who is passionate about helping artists and arts organizations shape our world. Lili was recently lured to Taos after spending 8 years in New York City fundraising for some of the country’s leading art and culture organizations, including the Guggenheim Museum, the Jewish Museum, Creative Time, and the New York Public Library. She holds an M.S. in Fundraising Management from Columbia University, where she has returned as a guest lecturer on grants, and B.A. in Art History from Northern Arizona University.
Shanti Duval is a web-savvy organizer who is passionate about giving back to Taos, making a stronger, more empowered community. Her strength lies in utilizing her skills to connect local organizations and youth to the global art and tech communities while maintaining and encouraging traditional practices within Northern New Mexico. Shanti recently returned home after a 10-year absence. During this time she graduated with a BA in Anthropology and Public Health, specializing in web development and design and lived in New York City for over 5 years primarily working for Pure Motion Pictures and Deko Design.
Community Engagement Director
& Festival Manager PASEO 2019
Rita O’Connell is a performer, writer, and producer of things who has been kicking around Taos since 2007. A co-founder of both KNCE 93.5FM and LiveTaos.com, she believes deeply in the power of the creative community here in Taos. Recently returned from obtaining a Masters in Public Advocacy and Activism from the National University of Ireland, Galway, Rita is delighted to be home helping bring this amazing festival to life for 2018.
Estacia Huddleston is a Community Planner and Placemaker working at the intersection of creativity and community. Her primary interests revolve around facilitating visioning and creative placemaking processes that make community planning accessible and meaningful. She returned to apply her experience in sustainable design, interactive art and place based planning to her hometown of Taos. Estacia has worked in Oakland, Albuquerque and Northern New Mexico to connect residents to the citizen power in love of place.
UNM Intern – Spring 2019
Audrey Valentine is a student artist at UNM Taos with a love for community art engagement and activism through medium. Audrey values the conversation art can instigate and is excited to be a support in Paseos commitment to Taos.
Board of Directors
Elizabeth Crittenden Palacios
Elizabeth has dedicated more than 30 years of service to the nonprofit sector. Prior to joining the Board of Paseo she was the CEO of the Taos Community Foundation, developing the organization as a resource for philanthropy; building community partnerships; and grant-making programs which have demonstrable impact in community.
She was Executive Director of the Santa Fe Community College Intercultural Community Leadership Institute, working to build responsive culturally appropriate programs throughout the different sectors of community. As trained high ropes course facilitator she understands the importance the connectivity of experience and learning. She is the former Marketing and Interim Director for the Santa Fe Small Business Development and statewide trainer for NM Small Business Development Center. She has extensive experience in the development of small businesses and micro enterprise internationally and throughout northern New Mexico.
Janet Webb has lived in three places in her lifetime: Los Angeles, New York City, and Taos, New Mexico. The latter has been her home since 1973. Though her college education culminated with a degree in drawing and painting, she has found her most rewarding accomplishment to be keeping a business running in Taos since 1982. Webb Design Inc is a design and marketing business focused on the tourism industry and fine arts arena. Janet’s other community involvements include SOMOS, the literary society of Taos, and Harwood Museum of Art.
Molly Robertson Art Historian, writer, and global traveller. A lover of art ranging from the Ancient to Contemporary, Molly has traveled near and far to observe Contemporary Art practices in all of its forms. It is a great pleasure to be part of a team that is bringing Contemporary Public Art to Taos, a place Molly has called home for most of her life.
Joleen is a co-director and college counselor at the Bridges Project for Education where she works with first-generation to college students and families through the college admissions and financial aid process. Prior to her time at Bridges, Joleen was the Executive Director and founder of Evolving Creative Opportunities Arts Center, a community based arts center for youth in Taos, NM. She has worked in the non-profit sector for nearly twenty years, mainly in the areas of youth development and the arts. She believes in art as a tool for healing historical trauma in communities and as an agent for social change.
This coming May I celebrate fifty years in Taos, so by necessity this vita is a bit longer than some. I arrived as part of the great counterculture movement of the late 60’s and helped found a commune in El Rito, NM. In order to survive in Taos for so long, I’ve had to reinvent myself repeatedly. At first, I worked as a carpenter and furniture maker, then for the next twenty years I was employed as an educator, teaching across the Humanities-English, Speech and Drama from the Middle School level to UNM Taos. My next incarnation was as a chimney sweep where I owned and operated a full service chimney business.
Throughout all my years in Taos I have been a theater maker, creating The Last Ditch Players where we specialized in interpreting the works of Samuel Becket, working for six years as an assistant and a performer with Arctistics, and most recently performing with Odenbear Theater. My other interests are in the visual arts where I serve on The Collections Committee and the Advisory Board at The Harwood Museum of Art, and as a supporter of the Taos Jazz Bebop Society. I was until recently the Taos Liaison for The Peter and Madeline Martin Foundation for the Creative Arts, which helped support a dozen Taos arts organizations for over two decades.
Nilssen moved to Taos in 1981 and worked in construction before establishing Moondance Recording Studio. He was employed by the Taos Art Association for twelve years in the eighties and nineties. In 1994 he was hired as technical director for the Taos Talking Picture Festival and was later executive director for Taos Talking Pictures. He is currently the executive director at Taos Youth Music School and holds the position of president of the board of directors of the Nina Elizabeth Nilssen Scholarship Fund. Nilssen was the first Board Chair of The Paseo Project, serving 2017-2018.
Liz Neely is a passionate advocate for how creativity and ‘making’ empower and inspire our lives giving us a lifelong learning mindset fueled by curiosity. As an established museum professional, she’s focused on designing engaging experiences for visitors onsite and online. Liz was a founding PASEO Team member and served on the founding board as Vice President from 2017-2018. Liz is currently the Curator of Digital Experience at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico and has held positions at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Harwood Museum of Art and the American Alliance of Museums. She received her MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
CHiKA is a Japanese-born, New York-based New Media Artist, and Educator.
Her work creates what she describes as the symphony of light: creating minimalist geometric shapes and visuals that explore dark space while inviting people to reinvent themselves through the relationship between objects and visual images. Light and sound are the main elements she uses in her installations, which are ultimately a visual performance that experiments with improvisational communication and immediate interaction with the audience in real time. Her work has shown in numerous international venues and festivals, including Metropolitan Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Art and Design, NY Hall of Science, Eyebeam, Harvestworks, the Hammer Museum, San Francisco Art Institute, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Museo Regional de Guadalajara, Matadero Madrid, and International Biennial Contemporary Art ULA-2010, Mapping Festival, Mutek, Dumbo Art Festival and among others.
Erin Elder is an independent curator of contemporary art guided by interests in land use, experimental collaboration, and non-traditional modes of expression. Her research-driven projects take highly participatory forms, working with a broad definition of art to bring audiences into a direct experience of particular places. Underscoring Erin’s work is a commitment to the creative process and direct support for artists. From 2009 – 2013, she cooperatively founded and directed PLAND, an off-the-grid residency program near Tres Piedras, NM. From 2012 – 2015, she was the Visual Arts Director at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, where she curated 50+ exhibitions and many public programs. Under her direction, the program worked directly with artists on exhibitions of new work, designed specifically for the unique gallery spaces at CCA. With an MA in Curatorial Practice from California College of the Arts and 15 years of experience in the art world, Erin operates Gibbous, a consulting service that supports committed artists at pivotal moments in their careers.
Megan Jacobs is an Associate Professor in the Honors College at the University of New Mexico. Her research explores the cultural and creative applications of computational imaging, with a specific focus on photogrammetry. Additionally, her artwork work explores the delicate relationship between our existence as material and concept. The materials that she works with: photographs, time-based media, glass, and ice, function metaphorically to illustrate the ambiguity of the body as well as the mutability of memory and identity. Megan is the Vice-Chair of the Society for Photographic Education-Southwest Region.
Josh Comfort is a registered Architect and Arts Advocate based in Denver. Visiting Taos and owning properties since 2000, Josh is a five year participant in Denver’s Biennial of the Americas, a hemispheric celebration of the Arts. He also serves on Denver’s Commission for Cultural Affairs overseeing Public Art and implementation of the City’s cultural plan, Imagine2020.
Anita McKeown (FRSA, BA, MA) is an itinerant interdisciplinary artist, curator and researcher interested in Creative Placemaking and Open Source Culture and Technology. Previously, Director of the CATALYST initiative at SMARTlab,UCD, she is currently focusing on completion of her PhD, while working on independent live and situated art projects, working as Art Services Unincorporated (ASU).
Ariane Koek (UK) is a Clore Fellow and was the first cultural specialist appointed by CERN – the world’s largest particle physics laboratory based outside Geneva, in Switzerland. She initiated the entire Arts at Cern programme which she designed and directed for 5 years – the Collide International and Swiss residency awards, the Accelerate research awards and Guest Artists (formerly Visiting Artists.) Today she is a strategic consultant and advisor for international arts/science initiatives including the European Commissions’ Joint Research Council’s sci-art programme based outside Milan, Italy and Science Gallery Venice. She is also the curator of Entangle – the artistic imagination and physics, which opens this November at Bildmuseet, Sweden.
Mariannah Amster and Frank Ragano
Mariannah Amster and Frank Ragano are Co-Executive/Artistic Directors of Parallel Studios which produces CURRENTS: Santa Fe International New Media Festival. Currents is an annual, citywide event which takes place for three weeks every June. Since 2002 Parallel Studios has brought together the work of established, unrecognized and emerging New Media artists, from New Mexico, the US and the world, for events showcasing interactive and fine art video installations, multimedia performances and web-based art forms.
Lucy R. Lippard
Lucy R. Lippard is a writer, curator, and activist who has spent a “lifetime in and on the edge of the arts”. Author of 23 books on contemporary art, her most recent being: Undermining: A Wild RIde Through Land Use, Politics, and Art in the Changing West. Her commitment to conceptual, ephemeral, and activist work now spans five decades, two of which have been spent in a small New Mexican village.
David Van Der Leer
David van der Leer, Principal of DVDL Design Decisions, is a consultant, curator, educator, moderator, researcher, strategist, and writer. David’s passion is reinventing the institutions of yesterday—and dreaming up the most inspirational institutions of tomorrow—through excellent architecture and interdisciplinary programs.
David founded DVDL Design Decisions in 2018 after having worked and consulted with institutions, government agencies, corporations, and individuals for 15 years. Creative, intelligent, intuitive, and forward-looking, David has extensive experience in bringing together interdisciplinary teams to create successful design projects.
David has created, chaired, and led nearly 30 design competitions, and he has commissioned numerous design and art projects. He enjoys rethinking conventional design competition and commissioning processes, and actively promotes new practices in events like the Design Competition Conference he developed and co-chaired at Harvard University in 2015.
Born and raised in The Netherlands, David is a graduate of Erasmus University Rotterdam, and of the High Impact Leadership program at Columbia University’s Business School.
Ann Landi has been a contributing editor of ARTnews for nearly 20 years and writes on art several times a year for The Wall Street Journal. She is also the author of The Schirmer Encyclopedia of Art, and holds degrees in art history from Princeton and Columbia. Currently, Ann is focused on her website, Vasari21, which presents artists with information about building a life as a professional artist.